A Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE) is a procedure performed to evaluate the heart and the surrounding structures. The TEE can often result in better quality pictures because it allows the cardiologist to view the heart from behind via the esophagus. This procedure is often conducted for patients who have or may need valve replacements, a history of stroke, or congenital heart defects.
How to Prepare for the Test
What to Expect During the Test
- Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your test.
- Wear a comfortable top that can be easily removed
- Check with your doctor for instructions on whether or not to take your medications the morning of your test
- Plan to stay at the hospital for 3 hours
- Plan to arrange for someone to drive you home and ideally to stay with you for several hours after your test
- Because this procedure requires you to be sedated, plan to make arrangements ahead of time in regard to work, home obligations, driving, etc. – you will not be able to drive, operate machinery, or make important decisions for 24 hours after the test.
A registered nurse, echo technician and cardiologist are present for the entire test. You will be asked to lie on a stretcher and you will be given medications through an intravenous line which will temporarily sedate you for the test. These medications help to relax you and control any discomfort you may have during the test. You will be awake and able to respond during the entire test, however you will feel relaxed and drowsy. Once you have been sedated and the back of your throat numbed with a medication that you swallow, a small flexible tube containing a small transducer is passed in to the esophagus. The transducer allows the cardiologist to visualize the heart from the backside. You will be monitored very carefully before, during and for at least 1 hour after the test. The medications used to sedate you are temporary and wear off shortly after the test is completed. The procedure itself takes approximately 1 hour, however plan to be at the hospital for approximately 3-4 hours to include time for preparation and recovery.
After the Test
After the test, the registered nurse will monitor you closely and remain with you in the procedure room until you are fully awake. You may feel drowsy for a period of time following the procedure and you may or may not have a sore throat.
You will be asked not to eat or drink anything for 2 hours after the procedure, so that the numbing medication has time to wear off. After 2 hours, you may eat soft foods, avoiding hot liquids.
It is essential that you are accompanied by a family member or friend to drive you home after the test. It is highly recommended that you do not drive, operate machinery or make important decisions for the remainder of the day.